little black dresser makeover | part 4 | reveal

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Before and Afters, Furniture Makeovers, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Painting & Refinishing, Tutorials80 Comments

When I last shared the little black dresser, it was distressed and quite honestly wasn’t wearing it very well!  Blacks and dark colors generally don’t look great in a flat finish and they at least need a little gloss to bring out the richness of the color.   This piece was painted in MMS Milk Paint’s Typewriter, so it definitely fits in that camp.

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover


There are three other posts in this series, you might want to check them out, especially if you’re looking for step-by-step video tutorials on prepping, painting, and distressing a piece of furniture.  These steps can work on pretty much any piece whether it’s raw, painted, stained, or wearing a poly finish.

Prepping a Piece of Furniture to Paint

Little Black Dresser Makeover | Part 2 | Painting

Little Black Dresser Makeover | Part 3 | Distressing


In this post, we’re finishing up with a Hemp Oil finish.  In our line, we carry several different types of finishes – Hemp Oil, Waxes (Furniture/Clear, White, Antiquing, and Zinc, Natural Beeswax), and Tough Coat, which is a waterbased polyurethane.  For very dark colors, I wouldn’t suggest using Tough Coat, because it can look cloudy or hazy over the dark colors.  This doesn’t happen over mid-tones or light colors, though, and it’s a wonderful, durable finish to use in those cases.

What I prefer using is Hemp Oil or the waxes.

They do a much better job at bringing out the richness of the paint color.  My two favorites for Typewriter are Hemp Oil and Antiquing Wax.  (You can also layer a wax over the Hemp Oil for added durability, shine, and protection.)  In the case of this dresser, I just kept it simple by applying one coat of Hemp Oil.

 Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

 Here is a video showing how I applied the Hemp Oil along with my very favorite technique for getting a buttery smooth finish.

And here is the end result…

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

I haven’t painted very many pieces black in recent years and this one makes me wonder why!  It turned out so beautifully and I love the warmth of the wood peeking through the subtle distressing.

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

The piece wasn’t bad to start with, but I feel like it has more depth and soul now and somehow even looks older.

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

Some of my readers weren’t in favor of this piece being painted, but I hope some may have been swayed.  I always try to show respect to the pieces I paint and their age and condition.  I don’t want to indiscriminately slap a coat of paint on and hide the beauty of the piece.  I’ll gently work with the lines, shape, and features of the dresser to highlight its details while still allowing it to be what it is.

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

And I love that there is variation in this black.  It’s not a perfectly uniform black.  It has a quiet personality that’s interesting and even inviting.  You want to run the tips of your fingers along this piece to see if the feels as smooth as it looks.  And it definitely does.

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

A lot of people have asked about why I paint with the drawers in.  I’ve gotten so used to doing that, that I forget it might be abnormal!  When the drawers are inset, as they are in this dresser, I can paint lightly around the edges of the drawers and reach everything I need to. I even left these drawers in for distressing, which sometimes I’ll pull them out to be able to distress the edges and the frame.

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

Painting a piece like this results in the sides of the drawers being nice and clean without tape.  The trick is not using too much paint around the edges.  If you get a little bit of paint on the sides, just lightly sand it off.  It wasn’t necessary on these drawers, though…

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

I’ll be taking this piece to Adourn in Chatfield, MN to sell!

And now, I’m on the hunt for another piece…


Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

little black dresser makeover | part 4 | reveal

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80 Comments on “little black dresser makeover | part 4 | reveal”

  1. I’m not usually a fan of painted furniture, but this piece is beautiful!
    I would love to find something to paint this black…. Love the painting above it as well.

  2. WOW I want to say that this is my favourite reveal but there has been so many that I loved…..but this one with the chair, the ironstone, YOUR PAINTING and the floors and walls beautiful just beautiful. Love the dresser but I love painted wood and have painted all kinds of furniture.

  3. I really do like this a lot — big fan of black/dark furniture. That said, the original was also gorgeous and I feel like I’d likely save techniques like this for pieces that need a little facelift rather than those that are already beautiful. At least you have very skilled hands and an excellent eye!

  4. I absolutely love what you did with this piece of furniture! It actually looks more like an antique in my opinion and the richness of the color is gorgeous. I enjoy your videos of furniture painting and distressing and have learned a lot from your techniques. Thanks Marian. 🙂

  5. I love this! But, admittedly, my favorite piece of furniture in my home is also black… I’ve had it for years and never once regretted the choice.
    I’ve been painting a reproduction hall tree these past few weeks and because of your videos I stopped trying to be so perfect. After distressing it and agonizing about coverage and fussing over how new it still looked, I was pleasantly surprised when I started applying the finish. Suddenly the piece took on an aged appearance, became the perfectly imperfect look I thought was impossible about half way through the process . I encourage anyone who’s contemplating paint not to worry too much. Just go for it!

    1. Yes! Paint can be so forgiving, especially when it’s distressed. So glad you love how your piece turned out.

  6. I’m a bit disappointed. You said one of the reasons you painted this dresser was to bring out the details. I think the beautiful details are less noticeable now that it’s painted black. If I had seen the original dresser in a shop, the details would have made me stop to take a look; now, I might pass it by (unless I was intentionally looking for a black dresser).

    Your information about working with black and dark colors is helpful. I painted an old dresser in flat black and it’s not what I envisioned. Now I know it needs a finish.

    1. Aw man…well, you can’t win them all! I think the details are brought out more, but you know what they say about beauty. I hope the information is helpful, though!

  7. I’ve been planning to paint a small armoire black and now I know how to make it look beautiful! Thank you.

  8. I recently purchased Typewriter and am planning on painting my powder room vanity with it. Thanks for the tutorial. It’s a big help so that there are no little “surprises”.

  9. Very nice work. When I first saw the piece, and knew you were painting it, I was like “NOOOO”, but now, it actually is more beautiful. Thought you were going to leave the top natural. Like the way you did it though.

  10. I love it! What would you recommend for using Luckett’s green. I want to paint a table top in that but wasn’t sure if hemp oil would be the best choice.
    Once again the dresser is so pretty. Wish I could buy it.

    1. For a tabletop painted in Lucketts Green, I would use Tough Coat. It’s a hard finish that you can scrub regularly.

  11. This turned out much better than I had imagined. And when someone mentioned it looked “English” it sold me even more. I have this heavy dark antique desk that I’m thinking of painting. Even if I don’t paint it, could the Hemp oil help the finish? It doesn’t show any signs of dryness but was wondering about the finish.

  12. I have an old dresser and mirror that are in pretty rough shape. I have not painted for fear of taking away from the beauty of the aging but I think you have just convinced me! Stunning!

  13. Marian,
    Thanks so much for posting this. It is so timely for me as I am about to use your Typewritter to paint a very similar dresser. I have already been excited to start on the project and now I am antsy to get it going. I love seeing this color used again!

  14. Truly lovely and you’re right about the richness. I wonder if you ever redo the oil your pieces….I worry the oil might dry over a few years and the color fade….thanks

    1. I have not had to reoil any of my pieces in over 6 years, so it doesn’t have to be done very often. It will depend on your climate and the humidity in your house.

  15. Love, Love, Love! I’m interested where this piece is fitting in your home with the blue’s that you have or is someone special going to use this beautiful piece?

  16. Do you have a source for handles like those on your piece? I have a dresser that is missing handles like those – thanks for the info and all of your artistry is exceptional.

    1. Those were the handles that came on the piece, so I don’t have a source for those specifically. You can find vintage hardware on Etsy and eBay regularly, though.

  17. I love it! But, I already knew I would! I painted a large heavy hutch in Typewriter, distressed and finished in Hemp oil several years ago and even though the piece is very large, I have never regretted it and get many compliments on it.
    It looks old and European and it is a showstopper filled with white ironstone.
    Thank you for all you do!

  18. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this end result… been waiting for this final post with so much anticipation and I couldn’t agree with you more. Absolutely perfect IMO!!! I have a somewhat related question though… do you wash your microfiber cloths after applying hemp oil? I prefer to use microfiber, but when working with HH stain & finishing oil & was, I use the blue shop towels…

    1. If they aren’t too saturated, I’ll rinse and wring them and then throw them in the wash by themselves or with other rags. If they are really saturated and dirty, I just throw them away. I buy cheaper ones in bulk, so they aren’t that expensive.

  19. Hi Marian,
    I know that you used to not paint the tops of the dressers that you would paint.
    Have you changed on that? Just wondering…

    1. No, I still like wood tops, but I just decided not to strip this one. If you notice, in the video where I painted the piece, I painted the top last. I was considering keeping it wood, but I felt like the lines of the piece were cleaner if it was all black.

  20. It looks beautiful. I do prefer the before, though, as it’s such a lovely piece. Also, I think the detail in the piece was much more noticeable in the before. I think some of the detail is lost now that it’s painted. Thanks for all the tips. Very helpful.

  21. Beautiful! I have a natural color pine 4 poster bed with thick, turned posts and a matching tall chest of drawers. Not antiques, though. I keep looking at these and wondering how they would look in a black finish. This article helped show me possibilities!

  22. I LOVE it!! I just painted a dresser with Typewriter and just got around to distressing it last week and then I read all of your posts and very quickly ordered the hemp oil from Amazon and I will be painting that on this week. I am so excited to see the end result! Hoping it looks just as good as yours does!! Thank you so much for sharing this process with us!!

  23. Wow, love it ……….
    My grandfather, as an interior decorator ~ always said to have a piece of black
    furniture in your home. ” It will pop.” And yes, your dresser will be noticed, as it “POPS!”

  24. Amazing difference the hemp oil finish makes. Beautiful!
    Were you happy with how the top of the dresser turned out, too?
    (I’m not seeing a photo of the top.)

  25. I agree that the black looks lovely. It’s not a harsh black, it has depth to it.

    I think having a few dark painted pieces in a home really anchors a room’s design. I have used a very dark grey carried throughout my house from the roof, to the front door, then a chest of drawers in the entry and so on, it gives the eye a resting place amongst the mostly light interior.

    I especially like the strong contrast of your distressed areas with the red brown wood against the black, it looks very rich in depth and elegant.

  26. When one loves easily its’ easy to find beauty in both dressers. The new is stunning and beautifully done while the old was a charming piece of furniture as well. Thank you for sharing your perspective Marian, in color 🙂

  27. I bought an old Morris chair for $40 off Craigslist this past summer and it has been sitting in my spare room while I figured out what to do with it. It has some interesting details but the wood isn’t in the best shape. I bought Typewriter without knowing what I’d use it for. But seeing this beautiful dresser “dressed” in Typewriter I think I know!

  28. This makes me want to try typewriter. I think it turned out perfect. It looks old, and after you painted it, I noticed the details….and I think they are emphasized now. Beautiful!!!

  29. Hi Marian. I have a beautiful table that I want to finish with hemp oil and then use wax for more protection. How long do I have to wait to wax after I use the hemp oil. Thanks.

    1. You can use it right away, then all the finish to cure for 30 days. You can use it during that time, but just be gentle.

  30. Typewriter is by far my favorite, and most often used, MMS milk ain’t color. I love how it almost acts like a stain, and I’ve never needed more than one coat. It distresses so beautifully. If I missed it, please forgive me, but what’s your truck for keeping pain off the key escutcheons?

  31. Absolutely perfect! Thank you for taking the time to share your talents, your blog is inspiring and so informational!

  32. My heart skips a beat looking at this beautiful piece. I am so in love with how it turned out. I have some second hand pine office furniture (about 15 years old). Although it’s almost orangy, I don’t mind the colour. I even appreciate it because I couldn’t afford it when it was in fashion. But now after seeing this piece, I’m thinking I should paint the lower parts (leaving the tops) in “Typewriter”. I wonder if having large pieces painted black in a smallish room would be too imposing and make the room look crowded or could the black possibly recess into the background? 🤔 🤷‍♀️ Thanks for the tutorials Marian. I hope you keep inspiring us with your vision.

  33. That exact painting belongs over that exact dresser. Stunning. I also received the horse painting “Grazing” that i purchased from you. It is even lovelier in person. Thank you.

  34. I have to admit that I was skeptical when you first said you were going to paint that lovely piece. However, it is really gorgeous! The brass key hole pieces are very shiny now and look great. Did you remove those to polish them? Thank you.

  35. Love the softness of the back and the gentle sheen of the wet sanded hemp oil. Looks very classy, like a very expensive, understated but stunning black dress on a well groomed woman. And the painting above is the perfect accessory! Please tell us about the painting; I think I remember seeing it in your Paris museum post.

  36. I’m the one with the dissenting opinion. Sorry, but I am not a fan of black…and I detest gray…I liked it better in the original finish.

  37. It’s wonderful…Thank you for the tutorial!!
    I recently panted a price with chalk paint and it’s yet to be sealed with wax… would hemp oil work over chalk paint? Thank you

    1. Yes! You can use it over any absorbent surface and since Chalk Paint is flat, it will soak it in.

  38. I am thinking of using typewriter for an unfinished pine chest in my bathroom after it gets remodeled in white. Will the typewriter cover the knots of the pine or at least look natural? Really don’t want to have to seal the knots if I don’t have to. Would love to know any experience you have with this gorgeous color and unfinished knotty pine! Thanks!

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